Reserve, active-duty Airmen to test night vision goggles on last mission of season for Operation Deep Freeze

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  • 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
From August through February each year, Airmen here deliver supplies to the National Science Foundation in Antarctica. This season's final mission is this month and could result in the capability to fly missions to that continent year round. 

On April 11 Team McChord Airmen from the 62nd and 446th Airlift Wings take off for their final mission of the season. One of their goals is to fly the first-ever Deep Freeze mission using night vision goggles, to include a landing and takeoff from the ice runway. 

Reserve aircrew members on this last mission include Maj. Thomas Jensen, 97th Airlift Squadron; Maj. Charles Corrigan, 313th AS; Maj. Monty McDaniel, 728th AS; Chief Master Sgt. James Masura, 446th Operations Group; Senior Master Sgt. David Stutts, 313th AS; Senior Master Sgt. Lance Gustafson, 446th OG; and Master Sgt. Michael Steward, 446th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. 

"This mission would allow us to provide support for the National Science Foundation year round," said Lt. Col. Jim McGann, the Operation Deep Freeze commander who is assigned to the 62nd Operations Group. "McChord has been doing Operation Deep Freeze missions for more than 10 years now and with this successful mission we will be able to ensure the increased effectiveness of the operation well into the future." 

The U.S. military's support to Operation Deep Freeze began in 1955. Through this program, McChord Airmen provide airlift support in an extremely adverse environment, landing C-17 Globemaster IIIs on a six-foot thick ice runway, to deliver supplies to the National Science Foundation from August through February each season. 

So far during the 2007-2008 season, McChord C-17s have flown 57 missions to McMurdo Station, Antarctica, from Christchurch, New Zealand, carrying more than 3.1 million pounds of cargo and more than 2,800 passengers. On the return missions from the frozen sea shelf of McMurdo, C-17 aircrews flew more than 850,000 pounds of cargo and 2,700 passengers back to Christchurch. 

Colonel McGann explained that the runway used at McMurdo was much like landing on Puget Sound's Elliot Bay in Seattle - if Puget Sound was frozen solid. 

"Despite the environment our aircrews flew into, landing and off- and on-loading people and cargo in temperatures at times (minus 58 degrees F) we didn't miss a beat," said Colonel McGann. "But we still have one to go." 

The final mission is scheduled for the week of April 11-21.